On obtaining the fishing at Twickenham Pits ay Waltham Cross in 1948 the Society’s first problem was how to bailiff it. Fortunately on the road which backed onto the pit lived one George Pridmore a man of large stature able to tackle most problems. George took the role on with great enthusiasm and under his watchful eye the pit became a haven for Anglers and Wildlife alike.
When a couple of years later the Society took on Toyhall Pits George immediately volunteered to also Bailiff these. He also sold the day tickets at Toyhall, considerably improving the Society’s bank balance as a result of which the Society had enough for the deposit when the opportunity to purchase the Rib came up the balance being raised by a bank loan. George’s role in the Society became even more vital as a steady stream of day ticket money was needed to help pay of the loan. George never shirked his duty patrolling Toyhall before breakfast Twickenham after breakfast and by mid morning back on Toyhall a quick afternoon check of Twickenham and back to Toyhall for the evening round. All of this he achieved on his trusty bicycle. On one occasion he found two anglers on the non day ticket section of Toyhall , when they refused to move he informed them he would have to remove them . Their response of “you and whose army” was met with George physically pitching each of them over the fence swiftly followed by their tackle.
At Society meeting George acted as Tyler and holder of the L.A.A. Benevolent box with which he would approach every member. At every social event he would spend the entire evening circling the hall chatting with members and selling raffle tickets. George didn’t profess to know much about fishing or finances, however this didn’t stop him from making the Society’s fisheries a nicer place to be and raise money for the Society at such a rate the loan was soon paid. In 1959 George was taken seriously ill and spent a number of months in hospital as a result he was unable to continue as bailiff but did take a reduced role as a fishery warden. Assisting George and later to become bailiff was Fred Chapman, founder member and described in his Bailiffs role as “the man in the white straw hat“ . In 1962 George died whilst doing his warden round. Dedication to the very end!
The purchase of the Rib came with a “resident bailiff “who not surprisingly lived in the Bailiff’s cottage next the pool at the bottom of the fishery. Fred Davis the bailiff was born in 1883 at Hampton Court, His father a Coachman died in a freak accident when Fred was quite young, as a result Fred was farmed out to various relatives during his childhood making him quite self sufficient. He fished from time to time in his younger years claiming his favourite spot as the Thames opposite the Jubilee Gate at the highest point of the flood tide. He started work at 12 years old in the local clay brick quarry being prosecuted for pheasant poaching during this time. He quit the Quarry at 17 and left to join the Marines eventually being posted overseas including South Africa for a number of years. In 1906 after 15 years he quit the Marines but remained in the Fleet Reserve. Unfortunately the 1st World War soon started and Fred was called up to active service spending time with the fleet of Admiral Beatty in the North Sea. Following demobilisation Fred worked for Lambeth Water Board and in the late 20’s became water bailiff at Pulborough on the River Rother. Later he managed a Trout farm in Northants and then worked on the canals for a time. Just prior to the start of World War 2 he came to live at the Manor House just along the lane from the Bailiff’s Cottage on the Rib eventually becoming water bailiff to Mr Trower on the Rib. When Abbey Cross purchased the Rib fishing Fred continued as Bailiff to the Society. In 1967 the late Ken Leigh interviewed Fred for an article published in the 21st anniversary edition of the Society’s journal. Fred never received a wage from Abbey Cross, however many members would stop by to see him risking a cup of his notoriously awful tea. He would receive a Christmas bonus from the Society and one member in particular Les Ford made sure he had enough throughout the year often stopping by with the occasional parcel of food. The cottage unlike the adjoining one never had electricity whilst Fred was alive instead a cable was passed through the party wall to which a single light bulb was fixed, the downstairs had a compacted earth floor and mice passed freely through the house. Fred passed away in the early 70’s and was predeceased by his wife. Fred wished to be buried with her and permission was obtained for her grave in the Churchyard at Holy Trinity Bengeo to be opened for Fred to join her. Shortly afterwards it was realised the wrong grave had been opened, permission then had to be obtained from the Home Office for Fred to be disinterred and reburied in the correct grave . Given this was an expensive process the Society contributed to the cost with many members attending the funeral(s). The two cottages were eventually sold off and converted into one dwelling. An Abbey Cross member now lives in the building, the son of Jack Hilton of carp fishing fame is the current owner.